I agree with both Sam and llana. Men aren't usually the ones managing their families lives like the majority of women do. A man has an easier time of being accepted as 'professional' over a woman, even if she has better qualifications. Any field that is seen as a hands on type business is usually expected to be a mans field. Just the other day I had a jerk mechanic tell me "What do you know, you're a woman." This was over the transmission in my truck. I have a bust so there for I must not know anything? Pffft!! By the way, I was right and he was wrong.
To me it's just crazy that the chocolate industry is not dominated by women. I mean come on folks, women have an intimate relationship with chocolate. More of the woman that try my chocolate taste a lot more of the flavors than the men, the guys usually say something like, "yeah that's really good" where as the women will say, "there is a slight fruity flavor here or the after taste is like this or that". Women, I think, are not as black and white as most men, we see things in many different perspectives. I think this is the main problem for woman and what helps out the men advancing in the field. That of course is not to say ALL women or ALL men fit this description.
Wow, sorry for ranting! ;)
OK, just have to add....it also seems that the prettier the woman, the harder it is to be taken seriously as a professional. But for men the more handsome they are the better they are treated.
Over the years I've had the opportunity to work with men and women in many different professional capacities. IN GENERAL, what I've found is that women are FAR more creative than men. Did I say FAR? So "far" it's not funny. However that creativity comes at a cost. That cost being emotionally involved with what they are doing.
I can name numerous examples - cake decorating, graphic arts, advertising, packaging - just to name a few. These are professions where the end result is to ellicit an emotional response from the client. As a general rule, men just "don't go there" emotionally.
The reason I think more women haven't risen to the top of the culinary industry isn't because men are better, but rather because of atrition. In a commercial kitchen, the pressure can be incredibly intense, and in bursts, and in many ways politically ignorant - the exact type of pressure a lot of women don't traditionally handle well.
I'm sure there's also discrimination and sexism (there always will be to some degree), but I can't personally attest to seeing any.
Those who get past the male egos, machoism, harsh and direct ways that men communicate, and do so without cracking will, in my opinion do better than any of their male counterparts.
Having said all of that, I've just let my shop manager read this, and as a professionally trained chef, and having had experience in commercial kitchens she's seen it all, and agrees. Those on this forum may disagree with my 2 cents here, but at least I have one professional female's opinion before pressing the "reply" key.
"the exact type of pressure a lot of women don't traditionally handle well."
I take offense to this statement. You try juggling being on the phone to make a doctor appointment for a sick two year old while he's throwing up all over you, during which you're cooking dinner for a large family (on a time crunch), the other kid's whining that they don't like what your cooking...all while keeping a smile on your face so everyone else in the house doesn't have to deal with all hell breaking loose. And don't forget you have to keep it all cleaned up and don't burn the dinner because the last thing you want after all of that is for anyone else to be grumpy. Sort of how you would handle a commercial kitchen I'd say. Honestly I think women handle stress great, we just don't expect a pat on the back for it. Maybe that is what our problem is.
I meant no offence at all. In fact if you re-read my post above, you will see that I'm in general paying a compliment to women.
I am also a single father, and very well understand household/children stress.
Personally, I don't know how stay at home parents (men OR women) handle that kind of stress. I can't do it full time. It's a constant, steady pressure, 24 hours a day. I can't fire my daughter if she's whiny or makes me mad. The house won't clean itself. The bills won't pay themselves. Just going to the mailbox knowing there's more crap coming down the pipe makes my skin crawl. I hate that kind of "all the time" stress, and respect those who can.
Also owning a commercial kitchen, I can definitively say that the stress that's present there is VERY different, and can be very intense - so intense that a lot of people (both men and women) can't hack it. I've had people quit after only 4 hours on the job.
I'm not posting in here to stereotype anyone. I'm simply sharing. If people are offended with my experiences, well... there's nothing I can do about that. Good or bad, it's what I've experienced in my career/life.
Let's generalize this last statement. There are -isms in every culture and they can be very hard to see if you are not a member of class being victim-ism-ized and you're not looking.
Sex, age, race, size, weight, hair color (especially redheads [me!] and blondes), religion (or lack thereof), ethnicity, country of origin, sporting team affiliation, whether or not your teeth are white enough, Mac/Windows, do you open your eggs little end up or big end up? - what prejudices we may see as "natural" in our culture others will abhor, and vice-versa.
My personal pet peeve in the workplace? I intensely dislike working with people who refuse to think for themselves - irrespective of gender or any other factor. I also hate office politics. It's one of the reasons I am self-employed.
All other factors asside, what about statistics? Has anyone counted say the number of proffessional chocolatiers for example and split them by gender. If there are a lot less women than there are men in the field, not that I am saying there are....I haven't done the count, then there will be a lot less women at the top than men.